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Glassfuls of fruit to beat the heat

Glassfuls of fruit to beat the heat

RAWALPINDI: In the sizzling hot and humid weather, one needs to drink a lot of fluids to stay hydrated. But there is little point in drinking endless litres of water when there are so many other, tastier beverage options available on the roadside.

Although there is no shortage of soft drinks in the market and milkshake vendors in every street, traditional fruit flavoured drinks attract many during shopping trips to the many markets in the garrison city.

There are many roadside vendors and sherbat stalls that are currently doing roaring business, whether they are selling fresh-churned lassi, chilled milk, lemon soda, sugarcane or falsa juice, imli and plum or almond and sandal sherbat.

From Murree Road to Raja Bazaar and from Saddar to other commercial areas of the garrison city, there are many shops specialising in such drinks, but a few are popular among the health-conscious who prefer their beverages made with clean utensils and served in hygienic glasses.

Sandal and almond

One can find a glass of cool and refreshing sandal-wood and almond flavoured drinks in the narrow streets of Raja Bazaar from dawn to dusk. Made from sandalwood extracts, rose water, sugar, basil seeds and lot of ice, it is a traditional drink that is said to help cool the body.

Almond sherbat is made from almond extract and sugar. Almonds are soaked in water and boiled, then sugar is added and the mixture is reduced until it becomes syrupy. This syrup is then added to water and served with ice.

“We have been selling sherbat in Raja Bazaar for the past 40 years. People came to us mostly because of our neat and clean environment,” sherbat vendor Mohammad Bashir told Dawn.

He claims to use all-natural ingredients in his drinks. “Many small stallholders used almond and sandal essence, but the consumer is the best judge and they refuse to buy such products if they find them to be sub-standard,” he said.


One can also find many vendors with a motorised juicer on their stall if one travels down Murree Road. The signature cartwheel is the unmistakable sign of a sugarcane juice vendor. Many Pindi-wallahs agree, though, that the best gannay ka russ, as it is colloquially known, can be found in a shop near Bhabara Bazaar. Sugarcane juice is a natural source of Vitamin D.

“My grandfather, Raja Khan opened his ‘Shakarcola’ shop 70 years ago when the British still ruled undivided India. We have been doing this for three generations and have provided people sugarcane juice, come winter or summer,” said Noor Khan, the owner of this famous stall.

He said that many politicians, including former president General Ziaul Haq, were regular customers. “Sheikh Rashid Ahmed drops in every once in a while too,” he said.

“During the days of the British, the shop was known as ‘One Anna One Glass of Sugarcane’. Even though times have changed and a glasa of juice costs more than an anna, we are still selling the juice at more competitive rates than others,” he said.

Ahmed Malik, a resident of Circular Road, said that he avoided the sugarcane juice from the roadside for fear of contracting diseases such as Hepatitis-C.

However, he endorsed the Bhabara Bazaar stall, saying the hygiene levels there were much better than most other vendors.

Imli-aalo bukhara

At Kartarpura, near Banni Chowk, there are many stalls selling a concoction known as imli-aloo bukharay ka sherbat. Plums, which form one half of this fruity treat, are said to be beneficial for those with kidney problems and also have a cooling effect on the body.

“Almost 60 years ago, my grandfather migrated from Amritsar and started selling this sherbat, using our family recipe that uses no essence. We use plums and imli, sugar and some local herbs,” says Chaudhry Habib, a shop owner.

He said that in the summers, they made falsa juice and the imli-plum concoction in the winters.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2015

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